The carer of TV presenter Phil Spencer's parents scrambled out of a car window when it toppled off a bridge and into a stream, an inquest heard today.
David and Anne Spencer and their live-in carer Veronica Francis were submerged in three feet of water for up to 20 minutes after the accident on their farm in Littlebourne, near Canterbury.
As an inquest into Mrs Spencer’s death was opened this morning, the coroner told how Ms Francis was able to escape the car and call for help.
But the married couple, who were in their 80s, died in the tragedy on August 18 this year.
It happened at about 12.20pm just after the three were leaving the home in Littlebourne.
Mrs Spencer, 82, had been driving the Toyota Hybrid C-HR negotiating the bridge, which had a steep incline and sharp bend.
Her husband was in the front passenger seat, and Ms Francis was in the rear driver-side passenger seat.
While trying to negotiate the bridge, the car went over the side and hit the bottom of the stream, flipping the car and submerging the trio in approximately three feet of water.
"Mr and Mrs Spencer were submerged for up to 20 minutes and the paramedics arrived at 12.57pm," said coroner Sarah Clarke.
Mrs Spencer’s cause of death was classed as aspiration pneumonia and hypoxic brain injury.
This had come from submersion in water with near-drowning.
Mrs Spencer died at the QEQM Hospital in Margate that same day.
This morning’s hearing at County Hall in Maidstone follows an inquest opening into the death of 89-year-old Mr Spencer on October 30.
During that hearing, the coroner told the court that Mr Spencer tragically never recovered consciousness. He was taken to the QEQM Hospital in Margate and pronounced dead a short time later.
His cause of death was given as aspiration pneumonitis caused by near drowning.
Speaking previously to KentOnline from his parents’ farmhouse, Phil Spencer, 53, and his three siblings said they had been overwhelmed by messages of sympathy and support.
The Location, Location, Location presenter, alongside brother Robert, 56, and sisters Caryn, 51, and Helen, 48, also remembered the idyllic upbringing their parents provided, and the couple’s many passions and contributions to the community.
In recent years, Mr Spencer, 89, had been impaired by dementia and his wife, 82, was suffering with mild Parkinson’s disease, but both continued to enjoy life at Upper Garrington Farm, which had been their home for almost 60 years.
The family told how Robert had valiantly tried to free the grandparents of eight from the car after it fell into the water - but they could not be saved.
Phil later said on Instagram the devoted pair “would have held hands under the water and quietly slipped away”.
On the day of the tragedy - Friday, August 19 - the couple had just left the farmhouse shortly after 12.30pm, with Mrs Spencer intending to drive them to the Haywain pub.
But she is believed to have misjudged a narrow bridge across a stream on the access road to the farm – a crossing she would have made countless times – which led to the vehicle toppling over into the water.
Today Ms Clarke, assistant coroner for North East Kent, adjourned the hearing for both inquests until December 19. This will be at Oakwood House in Maidstone.